As we snuck up on the 175th celebration, July of 2011, I wrote a series of articles that were included in Cheryl Poch's library column.  Although some of the information no longer pertains (such as the temporary museum has been taken down), there is still some fun stuff to read.

Following are those articles:

Article 1 ~~

Have you ever wondered about the sights and smells of early Fowlerville – let’s say around 1880?

The smells may have been one of the sweet fragrance of flowers in the spring combined with the earthy smell of ‘road apples’ or yeast-filled air wafting down main street from the Fischer bakery mixing in with the daily slaughtering of chickens behind the Vander Vene meat market. Or even fresh popcorn being made by a traveling vendor from his four-wheeled cart while his horse kicks up dust from the rutted road in front of the Commercial Hotel. Combine all those odors with the sight of a traveling circus and you have Grand River Avenue in Fowlerville around 1880, with the show as reported by G.L. Adams in The Fowlerville Review:

“A one-horse menagerie and sideshow combined stopped at this place on Thursday and remained over Sunday. The collection consisted of a pair of goats, a bear, a wolf, a snake and a small woman, also a stuffed three-legged colt and a six-legged lamb. The music – a hand-organ and a base drum, operated by the skillful hands of the village boys – was very highly appreciated by our citizens.”

The village was a mecca of activity, especially on Saturdays when many area farmers would make the trip into town for dry goods and food supplies, to pick up mail and packages, and to have highly-anticipated visits with friends and family catching up on the latest news and gossip.

For more fun and informative information, be sure to visit The Fowlerville Observer at and also come browse the 175th Centennial temporary museum, housed at the old hotel across from Curtis Grocery, hours available for viewing whenever The Treasure Chest is open, with volunteers available every Monday through Friday 11 am -1 pm and Saturdays 10 am to noon, May through July.

Article 2 ~~

The Blackmer name may ring a bell with you – but why? In 1896, Blackmer & Minto, a men’s clothing store was opened in Fowlerville. S.T. Blackmer eventually bought out Mr. Minto’s partnership and then brought in his own son, Deo Blackmer, to help with the business. Seventy-some years later, it became Utter’s MensWear, owned and operated by Frank Utter. So now that we have that bit of history covered, following is an article found in a 1907 issue of The Fowlerville Review:

“Deo Blackmer was thrown from his buggy on Saturday morning near the residence of S.S. Abbott and one of his ribs was broken. He was delivering the laundry and the horse became frightened, just as he jumped into the buggy, and started to run. He dropped one of the lines and this pulled the horse around, overturning the buggy and throwing him out, but very fortunately not seriously injuring him. The buggy was pretty badly smashed and the horse cut some. Dr. McGarvah reduced the fractured rib.”

“Reduce the fracture” – that is a term well-used in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. What in the world did that mean? Simply put, the bone was put back into alignment so it could heal properly. I have to wonder, though, how did Dr. McGarvah reduce a fractured rib, or did he simply wrap gauze around Deo’s ribcage and send him home to heal.

For more fun and informative information, be sure to visit The Fowlerville Observer at and also come browse the 175th Centennial temporary museum, housed at the old hotel across from Curtis Grocery, hours available for viewing whenever The Treasure Chest is open, possibly with volunteers available every Monday through Friday 11 am to 1 pm and Saturdays 10 am to noon, May through July.

Article 3 ~~

Within a few years of the end of the Civil War, a grassroots movement was started by Mrs. General John A. Logan, when she quietly spread sweet-fragranced flowers over Union soldiers’ graves in the National cemetery in Washington, D.C., and others began to follow her example. It didn’t take long for Congress to enact a law proclaiming the 30th day of May to be Memorial Day.

Locally, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) John Gilluly Post No. 114 was established for the veterans of the Civil War, and part of what these members did was to organize and participate in Memorial Day observances. In the early 1900s, their opinion was May 30th was “a day that should be sacred to the memory of those who have fallen in our holy cause, a day in which to scatter spring’s early blossoms on the graves of those we loved so well; a day rather to mourn than to be desecrated with amusements and ball-playing.”

Since those early days of Fowlerville, in 1907, and across the nation, Memorial Day has also become a day to welcome spring, spend time with family, and to honor all those who gave service to our country. And, in my opinion, I hope a little bit of “ball-playing” takes place at get-togethers and picnics.

For more fun and informative information, be sure to visit The Fowlerville Observer at and also come browse the 175th Centennial temporary museum, housed in a portion of The Treasure Chest store across from Curtis Grocery.

Article 4 ~~

Fowlerville found itself with a “Ladies Library” in 1904, organized by Mrs. Charles Benjamin as the first temporary president until Mrs. W.N. Itsell was elected to that position. In an article in the local newspaper, “Anyone can become a member of this organization for one year by the payment of fifty cents or by giving a well-bound, suitable book. Money may be paid to the treasurer, Ada Cole. Books may be left at C.D. Hamilton’s store.” The first location for the library was in the clerk’s office in the city opera house, which is now Handy Township hall, and when the doors were opened, forty books were available. Classics such as The Scarlet Letter, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield were included, but also titles such as Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, A Fool’s Errand, and Save the Girls no doubt brought readers in out of curiosity. New additions were listed nearly weekly in the local newspaper.

With this humble beginning and 107 years later, there are now over 27,800 books in the Fowlerville Library. It makes me wonder how the first board, consisting of Mrs. Itself, Inez Cole, Ella Hatch, Mrs. J.E. Sharp, Ada Cole, Mrs. C.D. Hamilton, Mrs. Chas. Bristol, Mrs. Chas. Benjamin, and Mrs. S.T. Blackmer, would feel, knowing their efforts have been so successful.

For more fun and informative information, be sure to visit The Fowlerville Observer at and also come browse the 175th Centennial temporary museum, housed in a portion of The Treasure Chest store across from Curtis Grocery.

Article 5 ~~

On June 23, at 6 pm, at the Fowlerville Library, I will be giving a talk entitled “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” No, I’m not going to sing – I have developed a wonderful power point presentation to show and read articles found in old issues of The Fowlerville Review. Late 1800s, to be exact. In all my research, even though those days held an innocence compared to today there were still many grifters coming to town, working their swindles (mostly on farmers); or tramps jumping off the train in search of a free meal; or clothes-line thieves, helping themselves to pants or shirts and sometimes underwear; or even adolescents playing practical jokes. And sometimes there was even thievery among neighbors, as shown in the following notice printed in the local paper during the fall of 1896:

Several residents of this vicinity have been more or less troubled for the past two or three years by turkey thieves and lately one of my turkeys was found in a barn with its legs tied, having been caught and tied in daylight, which it was calculated no doubt that it would go to keep company with some that were stolen a few weeks since. We have ample proof, but do not desire to prosecute and give this friendly warning, which, if duly heeded and the turkeys returned within ten days, it will save future trouble; but if not the law will have to be administered.~~S.A. Nichols

So, mark your calendar for June 23, 6 pm, and come hear more fun and entertaining blasts from the past!

Article 6 ~~

We’ve all been taught from a very young age to brush at least twice daily, rinse, and floss. And, with advances in gum health, pulling and replacing broken teeth, doing away with and filling in cavities, in 2011 there’s no reason not to have bright white, healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.

But have you ever considered what it might have been like a hundred years ago? Fluoride, a tooth-decay deterrent, had not yet been discovered as well as the teaching of how flossing could prevent any number of problems including halitosis (bad breath). I truly had to wonder when the following article, published in The Fowlerville Review in 1906, caught my eye that we are so much better off today.

As Dr. C.B. Hayner, a graduate of the University of Michigan and a dentist in the early days of Fowlerville, wrote: A good set of artificial teeth is far preferable to a few old useless natural teeth and when skillfully made, provide comfort, better speech and appearance, and ability to masticate (chew) one’s food properly. Aching, loose, diseased, or broken teeth act as a menace to good teeth and to the health and, when they cannot be repaired, should be removed.

So, there you have it – heading to the bathroom for a good brushing?! For more fun, informative trivia regarding Fowlerville, be sure to check out, also known as The Fowlerville Observer.

Article 7 ~~

"Back in the Day” – how often have you heard that phrase? Well, that could definitely apply to Fowlerville as the bicycle craze hit the area in the late 1800s. Back then, you had to look both ways coming out of the bakery or dry goods store or meat market because you just might collide with a fellow on the newest sensation zipping along the plank sidewalk.

And then as sidewalks improved and the roller skating phenomenon found its way to Fowlerville, young girls were cautioned not to stretch their necks while leaning forward to pick up speed for fear of overdeveloping their muscles, resulting in a big neck!

And then the “auty-mobile” started to make its appearance in the early 1900s. “Back in the Day,” it was more common than not that a horse-drawn carriage or wagon meeting up with this new-fangled machine just might cause one or both to end up in the ditch. The horse might rear up at the “ah-ew-ga” blast of the horn by the driver or the chug-chug-chug of the engine; foreign sounds to most ears.

But one of the most intriguing bits of information I have culled during research on a biography of G.L. Adams, the editor and publisher of The Fowlerville Review from 1874 through 1929, is how EVERYTHING found its way into the local section. “Back in the Day,” take for example, in 1910, S.L. Bignall slipped off the sidewalk while walking in front of Hotel Lockwood Saturday afternoon, bruising his face and one hand. Mr. Bignall being a highly-respected businessman, very active in the community, and a politician, while owning up to four houses – one of which now serves as the village office – was obviously always on the editor’s radar.

The 175th celebration is fast approaching and someday this will be part of our “Back in the Day” – so come, party, take in all the history, laugh with friends and family, and be a part of this rich history we call Fowlerville.

Article 8 ~~

This is the weekend we celebrate the 175th anniversary of the arrival of Ralph Fowler, or as we keep trying to pronounce, the “septa-quinta-quinque-centennial.” Many love to read about the early history but there is so much more to Fowlerville than just those early years. By the early-to-mid 1900s, this village was a well-known place to shop between Lansing and Detroit while it still maintained its small-town atmosphere.

So that’s why we are checking out some old advertisements – specifically those found in a 1929 issue of The Fowlerville Review – which can be quite interesting and sometimes even enlightening.

At the People’s Cash Market, you could get 2 pounds of home-rendered lard for 29 cents, or pork roast, beef roast or spare ribs from 15-cents to 20-cents a pound. And, if you got a hankering for oysters and fresh or salted fish, just phone 258, ask for R.E. Hoffman and request free delivery. Oh, and curiously, their motto was “Live and Let Live.”

Woods Drug store offered cold and grippe tablets, quinine, cough syrup, Vick’s and Musterole for the flu and cold season. By ringing up phone 29 F2, Tom Woods had solutions to help you feel better.

John C. Ellsworth, President of the State Bank of Fowlerville, touted “there is no more effective way of obtaining the things you desire than to have a savings account.” Sound advice, even for today.

And then, Clyde Curtis reminded us, “Dietitians are agreed that fresh fruits and vegetables are an absolute essential and we have the best at the lowest prices. A profusion of our fruits and vegetables makes a royal repast out of a meal.” Dial up 272 and their delivery would be prompt with courteous service. That sounds just like the new Curtis Grocery!

But if you needed to pick up your groceries, medicine, or deposit money, C.J. Gannon had a six-cylinder Chevrolet Six for only $595.

For more information on all the eras of Fowlerville, be sure to visit my website, The Fowlerville Observer, at Everyday there’s something new to read.